Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), who, by her own description, “grew up in the ski industry” of New Hampshire, has apparently decided that the slopes of Bretton Woods (or any of the state’s other world-class resorts) aren’t good enough for her high-dollar donors and political friends.
The congresswoman plans to host a ski-trip getaway next March for cash-flush PACs and Democratic activists in Jackson Hole, Wyo. — not the White Mountains in her own district. Tickets for Kuster’s event, billed as a “Spring Ski Weekend,” are priced at $1,500 for individuals and $2,500 for PACs.
The choice is raising eyebrows in a state where the ski industry generates an estimated $1.3 billion (as of 2019) to the state’s annual economy and supports 10,000 jobs, largely in rural areas where employment opportunities are fairly limited.
“Another example of Kuster ignoring her state and constituents,” said New Hampshire GOP Chairman Chris Ager. “What’s wrong with the ski resorts in her very own district – Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods, Pats Peak?”
Her decision to forego hosting the fundraiser at one of New Hampshire’s upscale ski resorts instead could be a hint about Kuster’s current job priorities.
Holding her seat in Congress since 2013, last December Kuster took the job heading the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a group of 96 sitting Democrat members of Congress focused on regaining a House majority in the next election cycle. She aims to double the $3.5 million that NDC’s New Democrat Coalition Action Fund raised to support candidates across the country last time around.
“It’s sort of a mirror organizational structure to the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee),” Kuster told National Journal. The current chair of the DCCC, Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), previously led the NDC. Kuster said the two groups are now working together closely to regain a majority in the House.
Residents of New Hampshire’s 2nd District — where the ski industry provides badly needed jobs — appear to have taken a back seat to the congresswoman’s wider political ambitions. Jackson Hole is known as a tony watering hole for D.C. elites and Hollywood celebrities.
Kuster told The Washington Post in March she grew up in the ski industry, which is vital to many of the state’s rural residents. “It’s a big part of my life and our family’s life,” Kuster said. As such, she clearly understands the critical importance of ski-related jobs to thousands of New Hampshire families.
Now heading the NDC’s efforts to take back control of the House, Kuster told National Journal she plans to encourage Democrat candidates for House seats across the country to focus on abortion rights in their campaign messaging. It is a strategy she believes enabled her party — in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade — to largely stem a widely anticipated “red wave” in the last election that ultimately fizzled out. Despite higher expectations, Republicans won a slim majority by just nine seats.
The New Democrat Coalition Action Fund that Kuster oversees has so far endorsed seven Democrat primary candidates in competitive “frontline” districts across the country and is active in the recruitment process. The coalition’s PAC has also launched new joint fundraising committees in California and New York to direct more money to select candidates in those two states.
Representatives of New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation industry were reluctant to cross the powerful congressional Democrat on the record. But several told NHJournal on background they were disappointed in the decision.
“We’d love to see these people in one of our resorts,” one person in the industry said. “New Hampshire has everything [Kuster] needs to impress these people. And she doesn’t have to fly 2,000 miles to do it.”